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					Gareth Simpson                             i     

                                 SERMON OUTLINE

Series:        When Jesus preached (Part 10)
Title:         Living for truth
Text:          Matthew 5:33-37
Date:          28 November 2010 am
Venue:         Lambert Road Baptist Church (
Preacher:      Gareth Simpson (Blog:

1.   The absence of truth
2.   The twisting of the truth
3.   The source of truth

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                          1

•    Many of you who keep an eye on world news will know of the company called Enron.
•    In just 15 years, Enron grew from nowhere to become America's 7th largest
     company, employing 21,000 staff in more than 40 countries.
•    They were the largest buyer and seller of natural gas and electricity in the United
•    But the firm's success turned out to have involved an elaborate scam.
•    They lied about their profits and were accused of a range of shady deals, including
     the concealing of their debts so that they didn't show up in the company's accounts.
•    This company lied their way to success, and when they were found out, they filed for
•    Why was this company not honest about its profits and debts?
•    Why could they not just be truthful?
•    The world news has also captured quotes by previous presidents of the United
     States which have become infamous.
           o Bill Clinton said regarding Monica Lewinsky, "I did not have sexual relations
               with that woman".
           o George W. Bush (March 17, 2003)1 - “Intelligence gathered by this and other
               governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and
               conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”
•    In South Africa we are faced with people speaking out against corruption, and then
     being charged with corruption themselves, whether it’s the oil gate or the travel gate
     or luxury car ‘gate’ saga.
•    This general absence of truth is not only present in the business and political world.
•    The media misrepresents truth in just about every advert.
•    It is no wonder that, “Terms and Conditions Apply”, because the whole truth was
     definitely not represented in that advert you just saw.
•    We can comfortably say that one of the hallmarks of our day is:

•    As we shake our heads at the society that we live in, we realise that we too are not
     as truthful as we would like to believe that we are.
•    Is your “yes” consistently yes, and your “no”, no?


“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                     2    

•   Or do you bend the truth, and compromise the truth from time to time when it suits
    you… when it is in your favour?
•   For those of you who are in the working world, are you honest when you market your
•   Or do you exaggerate the effectiveness, efficiency and brilliance of your product,
    and unfairly criticize your competitor’s products?
•   Those who are consultants: are you honest with your client about the delivery date
    of your product, or do you promise the world in order to get the client to sign?
•   How far would you go to get the deal?
•   Are you honest with your timesheets, your tax, paying employees or domestic
    workers a fair wage?
•   Is your “yes”, yes, and your “no”, no?
•   Do you treat everybody equally, and with dignity, whether they are the managing
    director, or the cleaner – or do you act differently around different people, depending
    on their status?
•   The family is also in crisis because people are not committed to their “yes”.
•   Marriage is essentially a commitment.
•   It is a promise to be committed to the initial “yes, I do”.
•   When it comes to parents and children, Mom and Dad threaten that if little Johnny
    doesn’t stop banging his little sister’s doll against the wall he is going to get a smack
    and go to his room.
•   He is threatened, and threatened and threatened, but he doesn’t ever get punished.
•   Little Johnny has learnt that there is no consistency in Mom or Dad’s threats, and his
    sister’s little doll was destroyed long ago.
•   Children are asked, “Have you cleaned your room?”
•   The answer is ‘yes’, but in reality the mess has just been transferred from the
    stockpile in the middle of the room to the cupboard and under the bed.
•   Students and teenagers present work to their lecturers and teachers that is not their
•   The assignment isn’t really theirs since they robbed someone of their knowledge by
    plagiarising? (using info/quotes from person without giving them proper credit)
•   When their assignment is late, they don’t want to accept the zero that they deserve.

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                        3         

•    They are so convincing in telling the lecturer that the dog really did eat their
•    In the church we say, “Yes, I will pray for you”… but often don’t.
•    We commit to a ministry, but when it isn’t convenient anymore we don’t serve
•    We commit to local church membership, to pray for the church, submit to the
     leadership, exercise our spiritual gifts, to love one another, to witness for Christ, and
     to give.
•    Has your “yes” to this local church been evidenced in your life?
•    Do you see how easily we break this one little commandment, let our “yes” be yes,
     and our “no” no?
•    It is therefore not surprising that many people feel the need to precede what they
     say with the words, “as God is my witness, it is true”, or “on my mother’s grave I
     swear that I am telling the truth”, or “my oath”, or “I swear on the Bible”.
•    If you feel the need to precede anything that you are going to say with an oath, or
     the words, “I promise… just ask him…”, or “honestly speaking”, then you are doing
     this because a simple “yes” cannot be trusted.
•    This is what had happened in Jesus’ day.
•    We may call it...

•    The people of God had been instructed in the Mosaic Law to make oaths.
•    “You shall fear the LORD your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by
     his name you shall swear” (Deuteronomy 10:20).
•    “You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God”
     (Leviticus 19:12).
•    They understood that they were to make vows before God, and that they were then
     obliged to keep them.
•    Yet by the time that Jesus walked on the earth these teachings regarding oaths had
     been distorted by the rabbis.
•    They swore “By your life”, “By my beard”, “May I never see the comfort of Israel

           Hughes, R. Kent. James – Faith that Works. Crossway 1991:246

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                                 4        

•   They were teaching that the important thing was not the actual keeping of the oath,
    but rather in whose name one took the oath.
•   In addition, “They had so construed the meaning and so turned and phrased it in a
    legal form that they allowed themselves ample scope to do many things that were
    utterly contradictory to the spirit of the law, yet they felt they were free because they
    had not actually broken the letter. In other words, they had confined the whole
    purpose of the enactment at this point to the one question of committing perjury3.”4
•   When they taught, “You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what
    you have sworn” they were limiting the extent of the Old Testament teachings to the
•   In a sense, they were saying, if you make a binding statement before a judge you
    must do what you said that you would do.
•   They made up all sorts of rules regarding the making and keeping of oaths (Matthew
•   They said that if you make an oath in the name of the temple, then you didn’t have to
    keep it.
•   But if you made an oath in the name of the gold of the temple then you had to keep
•   If you made an oath in the name of the altar, it was not binding.
•   But if you made an oath in the name of the gift on the altar, then you were bound to
    your oath.
•   They made up all sorts of rules, very similar to children who promise something, and
    then say, “I had my finger’s crossed behind my back, so I didn’t have to tell the
    whole truth”.
•   Jesus taught the crowds that their silly distinctions regarding oaths were petty and
    unfaithful to the original intention of these teachings in God’s word!
•   Jesus was teaching them that God made everything, and that everything in the
    whole world is His.
•   Man-made distinctions regarding oaths are meaningless!
•   Jesus said in essence, “If you vow by ‘heaven’, it is God’s throne; if by ‘earth’ it is his
    footstool, if by ‘Jerusalem’ it is his city, the city of the great King. If you swear by

              Perjury: The deliberate, wilful giving of false, misleading, or incomplete testimony under oath.
              Lloyd-Jones, D Martyn. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. IVP 1976:268

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                       5       

    your head, it is indeed yours in the sense that it is nobody else’s, and yet it is God’s
    creation and under God’s control”.5
•   Jesus was teaching these people that a vow is binding, irrespective of how it is
•   The scribes and Pharisees had interpreted the Mosaic Law to mean that one must
    not commit perjury (i.e. lie in court) – which of course is extremely wrong – but they
    missed the spirit of the law.
•   Jesus was saying that if you are truly living for God then your life should be
    characterised by truthfulness – all the time, in every situation.
•   Don’t just be truthful in the courtroom when you are “under oath”, and thereby obey
    the letter of the law.
•   To obey the spirit of the law is to be truthful every day in every way – to be beyond
•   A simple, “I will pray for you” or “I love you” or “Yes, I’ll help you”, will be reviewed on
    judgement day.
•   Jesus said later in His ministry, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give
    account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36).
•   This is why Jesus said, “let your ‘yes’ be yes and your ‘no’ be no”.
•   When Jesus said, “Do not take an oath at all ...” (v.34), does this mean that you
    must never swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth in court, or swear
    an affidavit before a Commissioner of Oaths?
•   This is what the Anabaptists and Moravians did, and what the Quakers still do today.
•   In doing this they were actually obeying the letter of Jesus’ teaching, and not the
•   As followers of Jesus we should not need to resort to oaths, but if we are required to
    take an oath by a legal authority we should do so, since our telling of the truth will
    not be compromised by doing so.
•   It is interesting that today even the giving of testimony under oath is often not
•   People are frequently found out in terms of deliberately lying under oath in the
    courtroom, and thereby committing perjury.
•   What Jesus was speaking out against was oaths made in a thoughtless manner.

          Stott, John. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. IVP 1995:101

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                     6    

•    Paul made oaths:
        o “I call God to witness against me…” (2 Corinthians 1:23)
        o “For God is my witness …” (Romans 1:9-10)
•    Paul understood that he would be required to give account for his words, yet he
     knew that his “yes” was indeed yes.
•    He was therefore at peace, under the Holy Spirit’s guidance, to write to these two
     churches using an oath.
•    Jesus calls us to lives of radical truthfulness.
•    It is a call for us to be ruthlessly honest and to live with integrity – to be above
     reproach in a society that deceptively bends truth to suit their circumstances.
•    When we evaluate ourselves against this one small commandment of Jesus, each
     one of us falls horribly short of what God requires of us?
•    Do you realise that the presence of white lies, half truths and hidden truths in our
     lives shows us that we are, in God’s eyes, liars.
•    We are sinners.
•    Jesus was in these verses highlighting how the Pharisees had lowered the
     requirements of God’s commandments through Moses in order to make them
•    The problem with the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees is that it resulted in
     people thinking that they were good people, and right with God, if they simply didn’t
     commit perjury.
•    But Jesus again held up Moses’ Law in order to show the people that they weren’t
     as good as they thought they were.
•    He wanted to show them that if they thought that they obeyed and fulfilled God’s
     commandments then they were wrong.
•    Jesus was showing them that if they thought that they were righteous because of
     their obeying of the scribes and Pharisees teachings, then they had better think
•    Our performance will never make us right in God’s eyes.
•    In fact, when we look at our lack of truthfulness and goodness we are forced to look
     outside of ourselves for...


“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                 7      

•   As Jesus “was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and
    asked him, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" And Jesus said to
    him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the
    commandments: 'Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear
    false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother.'" And he said to him,
    "Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth." And Jesus, looking at him, loved
    him, and said to him, "You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the
    poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Disheartened by
    the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Mark 10:17-22).
•   The rich young man was trusting in his wealth and self-righteousness in this life in
    order to get to heaven.
•   But Jesus exposed the fact that this man was obeying the letter of the law, and not
    the spirit of the law.
•   He wanted Jesus to commend him as being a good person.
•   Jesus used the fact that this young ruler addressed Him as the “good teacher”.
•   Jesus asked the man why he called him ‘good’.
•   After all, only God is good in the absolute sense of the word.
•   The young man was correct in calling Jesus ‘good’ but the reality of his own words
    escaped him.
•   This young man needed to trust, not in his ‘good works’, for salvation, but in the one
    before him who truly was the ‘Good Teacher’.
•   This man was trusting in his wealth and relative goodness ahead of God, and in so
    doing was breaking the spirit of the first commandment, “You shall have no other
    gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
•   “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ”
    (John 1:17).
•   Jesus Himself said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the
    Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
•   You do not discover the truth from within, and all of a sudden you are an honest
    person who lives with integrity, because you followed some good principles.
•   God’s word sends its searchlight into our hearts and shows us that we are liars, and
    if liars, we have broken God’s law, and if we have broken His law then we are

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)
Gareth Simpson                                       8       

•   As we have seen, God’s law is a mirror that shows me that I am not as good as I
    thought, that I am not as honest as I thought.
•   The wages of sin is death.
•   You need to come to Christ, abdicate/surrender/give up your rebellious kingdom that
    you have set up against Him, and allow it to joyfully come under Christ’s rule.
•   Then you need to abide in Christ, abide in His Truth.
•   Jesus has taught us, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you
    will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32)
•   Once you have surrendered the throne of your life to the rule of Christ, you need to
    abide in the truth.
•   Jesus promised to send His Holy Spirit to indwell His followers (John 14:16-17).
•   He prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:16-17)
•   I am not telling you to try harder in order to be saved.
•   I am saying that we will always condemn ourselves with our thoughts, words and
    actions, unless we surrender to Jesus.
•   Are you like the rich young man who fulfilled his interpretation of the Ten
    Commandments and thought he was going to heaven because of it?
•   Or have you looked at yourself honestly, recognising that you are a sinner who
    needs a Saviour.
•   Jesus’ interpretation of the full meaning of the Ten Commandments (and the rest of
    the Mosaic law) should leave us humbled, not feeling self-righteous.
•   It should force us to look away from our ‘good’ works and performance, and look to
    the One who was truly ‘good’ in the absolute sense of the word.
•   Only those who are declared right because of what Jesus did on the cross in our
    place, will inherit eternal life.
•   Once we are born again followers of Jesus, “Christians should say what they mean
    and mean what they say”.6
•   As we yield to the Holy Spirit’s working in our lives, our lives should be characterised
    by radical truthfulness.

          Stott, John. The Message of the Sermon on the Mount. IVP 1995:102

“Living for truth” (Matthew 5:33-37)